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Fr Alvaro Corcuera’s reflections on Lent
ITALY | WHO WE ARE | SPIRITUALITY
“Called to be Witnesses of the Faith”

Año de la fe

Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, general director of the Legion of Christ, offers the following letter of reflection on Lent to members and friends of Regnum Christi.  He reminds us of the need to use this season to strengthen our faith.

An English translation of the letter is available below and in pdf format.

***

 

Thy Kingdom Come!

REGNUM CHRISTI

MOVEMENT

_________


GENERAL DIRECTOR



Rome, February 22, 2012

Rome, February 22, 2012

To All Friends and Members of Regnum Christi At the beginning of Lent

My Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to take this opportunity to send you a few lines as we begin this grace-filled Lenten season. The liturgical seasons return every year, but in a certain sense they are always new, since God bestows upon us the graces we most need at each moment.

Each one of us begins this Lent immersed in personal circumstances. All of us, undoubtedly, do so with an immense desire to grow in our love for Jesus Christ, and for the Regnum Christi family to which he has called us. We do so carrying our cross, bearing the tribulations that God permits in our lives which unite us with so many other people in this world. We have a golden opportunity to identify ourselves more intensely with the crucified Christ, who gives meaning and hope to our suffering. “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

As a Movement, we accompany the consecrated men and women in a special way now as they begin a new stage in their path of renewal. During these times which are difficult yet characterized by trust in God, we discover that we truly are one family, united in Christ and in the Church: Legionaries, consecrated men and women, all the members and friends of Regnum Christi, the boys and girls
Reuniones de consagrados.
of ECYD, etc. We are not alone. God calls us to be apostles of mercy, to love without measure, forgiving and asking for forgiveness, not following the natural tendency to blame others, but allowing ourselves to be moved by grace and the law of the Gospel, which is charity. We know we are supported by others in prayer, with good example and with so many signs of affection. We are profoundly thankful that the Church, like a mother, guides and assists us in a special way during these times through the Vicar of Christ and our Papal Delegate. God leads us by the hand and gives us a sense of security that is not based on human expectations but on theological faith, hope, and love.

Together with the Church, we are preparing ourselves for the Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI, which will begin this October. In this light, I would like to briefly reflect with you on God’s call for us to be witnesses of the faith.

1. Called to Be Witnesses of the Faith

I had the grace to meet with many of you in Chile, the United States and Mexico during December and January. What a joy it was to share these moments with you! It is a blessing to see how the Holy Spirit inspires so much yearning for holiness, so many initiatives, so many practical ways of bringing Christ’s love to others. If we are here today, it is thanks to other people who believed and sought to bring Christ to us. Looking back at our own stories, we realize with gratitude that many men and women, in different ways, have approached us and continue to lead us to God. Before discovering our call to the Movement, we received the sacraments, grace and so many other gifts from the Church, thanks to the generosity of many whose faith has made them instruments who brought the Gospel to our countries and our families.

In the apostolic letter announcing the Year of Faith, the pope invites us to retrace the road of the history of our faith. There he speaks to us about Mary, the Apostles, the disciples of the first Christian community, the martyrs, the men and women who have consecrated their lives to Christ, and finally, about the multitude of men and women who “have confessed the beauty of following the Lord Jesus wherever they were called to bear witness to the fact that they were Christian: in the family, in the workplace, in public life, in the exercise of the charisms and ministries to which they were called” (Porta Fidei,
misiones
«Being a missionary is to assist, as good Samaritan, necessities of all, especially of the poorest and needy people.».
13). What great gratitude wells up in the soul when contemplating this story of fidelity and self-giving which has brought us the faith!

Of course, we know that passing on the faith from one generation to another has not always been easy. Looking back at the history of the Church, we find so much holiness and many times heroic commitment. How many martyrs in these twenty centuries! Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians.” If we are here today, it is thanks to the sacrifice of so many men and women who have given their lives for Christ and for their brothers and sisters and who have been willing to be seeds that die in the furrow.

God has deigned to call us to be witnesses of the faith here and now so that many others might know and love him. We are part of that unbroken chain of faith, in which we support one another, and in which we share the commitment of passing on what we have received: “No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166). What confidence God has in us by entrusting us with this mission!

Furthermore, he has placed Regnum Christi in our hands, a gift from the Holy Spirit for his Church, which will reach its full potential to the extent that we learn to cooperate with him, without hampering his providential action. We have all heard many encouraging stories of our brothers and sisters in the Movement who passionately live their vocation to be apostles. Seeing them reminds us that, no matter what our age, we are called to be witnesses of the faith, to be saints, to make Christ’s love shine wherever God sends us. “What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end” (Porta Fidei, 15).

Last Sunday, the Pope told the new cardinals that their mission, above all, is “to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love” (Homily, February 19, 2012). When our heart is full of this love, we cannot be sad or self-centered, even in the midst of great trial and suffering. Faith gives us the certitude of his love, and the joy it produces is the source of witness that is capable of changing the world.

2. Strengthen our Faith

When we examine the lives of the first Christians, we are surprised to see the courage with which they set out to preach the Gospel. Frequently they had minimal resources and faced great challenges. Their faith and love for Jesus Christ drove them to undertake extraordinary works, just as Jesus promised the Apostles during the Last Supper: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).

We know that being witnesses of the faith today means going against the current. However, we shouldn’t fear the crosses that come our way, since they will only bring blessings. Above all, God invites us to focus on the needs of souls and on our mission. The best way to take care of ourselves is by taking care of
Adoración por las vocaciones.
others. If we could see all of the needs of the Church and how much she suffers, we would never stop striving to bring Jesus Christ to so many who don’t even know him —not only in remote lands but even in our own cities, among those who are close to us. The best service we can render them is to bring them to a friendship with Christ.

At the same time, we experience our human limitation and we see how little we can do by ourselves. Hence we must implore God for the gift of faith. I would like to briefly suggest three means that can help us to grow and strengthen our faith in order to fully cooperate with God in his plan of salvation. Only with much prayer, the Eucharist and frequent contact with the Word of God can we be authentic witnesses of the faith.

Prayer

Faith is not a list of ideas, but rather self-giving to the one who created us out of love: “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Our faith grows in this simple and cordial relationship with him. There, we offer him our joys and sorrows, our difficulties and dreams, and especially where we listen to him and wholeheartedly embrace his plan over our life, in good times and in bad. As the Pope put it in one of his recent audiences, “When we face the most difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not be afraid to entrust the whole weight of our overburdened hearts to him, we must not fear to cry out to him in our suffering, we must be convinced that God is close, even if he seems silent” (General Audience, February 8, 2012).

Praying does not mean thinking about many things, but above all welcoming and contemplating God in our hearts. It means turning our lives into a loving response to him. It means taking on his way of seeing, desiring and acting. It means allowing Christ to live within us. Especially in this period, we must constantly ask him: “Lord, what do you want from me right now?” Then we have to tell him wholeheartedly that we want what he wants. Our greatest source of peace and unity will be in knowing and fulfilling God’s will out of love, in building our life on the rock of his will: “The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Matthew 7:25).

Reflecting on Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane, the Pope said, “we must learn to entrust ourselves more to divine Providence, to ask God for the strength to come out of ourselves to renew our ‘yes’ to him, to say to him ‘thy will be done’, so as to conform our will to his. It is a prayer we must pray every day because it is not always easy to entrust ourselves to God’s will, repeating the ‘yes’ of Jesus, the ‘yes’ of Mary” (General Audience, February 1, 2012). Let us intensify our prayer life during this Lent so that there, as the Pope said in the same audience, God may give us hope and make us feel his closeness and give us a little light on the path of life.

Eucharistic Life

The Eucharist is the “mystery of faith”, as the priest proclaims after the consecration at Mass. It is so beautiful to see how many initiatives of Eucharistic adoration have arisen during this period in the Legion and the Movement. There Christ truly transforms our
Biblia Peregrina
life, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded, “Adoration is primarily an act of faith – the act of faith as such. God is not just some possible or impossible hypothesis concerning the origin of all things. He is present. And if he is present, then I bow down before him. Then my intellect and will and heart open up towards him and from him. In the risen Christ, the incarnate God is present, who suffered for us because he loves us. We enter this certainty of God’s tangible love for us with love in our own hearts. This is adoration, and this then determines my life” (Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2011).

Therefore, the Eucharist is the best place to grow in faith and to fill ourselves with Christ. There we learn to see things as God sees them and we are deeply united in community, sharing the same Bread and the same Chalice. It will not be our ideas or our work that will help most to establish Christ’s Kingdom. Above all it will be God’s action in each one of us, aware that he does marvels in the one who believes deeply. Where there is a person who witnesses to faith, a saint or an apostle, there is always a man or woman of the Eucharist. When we receive Christ into our hearts, we discover the strength that we often lack, humanly speaking.

Reading and Meditating on the Word of God

Many times, wanting to hear God, we seek him in many places. But we should never forget that he speaks to us, above all, in Sacred Scripture. There we have his word that speaks to us in the “today” of our lives. God’s Word shoould be the first reference point in our work, such that we are constantly comparing our lives to the Gospel standard, asking Christ how he would act at this moment.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of the importance of listening to the Word of God in order to grow in our faith, “It is the preaching of the divine word, in fact, which gives rise to faith, whereby we give our heartfelt assent to the truth which has been revealed to us and we commit ourselves entirelly to Christ: ‘faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the word of Christ’ (Romans 110:17)” (Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 25).

Going to the Gospel means finding Christ and then allowing him to mold ourr lives. In the same document, the Pope tells us that it is only in this way that “the Holy Spirit who inspired the s acred authors is the same Spirit who impels the saints to offer their lives for the Gospel” (Verbum Domini, 49). We ask God for the grace of accepting his Word with docility and faith so that it form Christ’s image in us.

I conclude by thanking you for your testimony and fidelity. I would like to be able to do something more for each one of you, but I offer you my prayers and gratitude. During this period we must be sowers of the seed, witnesses, instruments, trusting that the Holy Spirit will make this coommitment fruitful in the ways and times that he desires.

We will be credible witnesses and will transmit God’s love to the extent that we allow ourselves to be transformed by him. Thus, in the same way as we look back now on the story of our faith, future generations of Legionaries andd Regnum Christi members will turn their eyes to us to see how we lived this moment. Let us think about what the Movement will be like in a few years, and how God will use the fidelity of each one of us. Let us continue to support each other in prayer as we place this Lenten sea son in Marry’s hands. We ask her to help us grow in our faith and our love for Jesus Christ so that we might become what he wishes us to be.

Sincerelyy yours in Christ and the Movemment,

 



PUBLICATION DATE: 2012-02-29


 
 


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